The aim of the study was to assess the functional capacity in the elderly using a modified timed version of a previous test proposed by Mathias et al. The validity and the reliability of such tests has been questioned therefore a new scoring system was implemented as a result of the imprecise scoring systems used previously.
60 patients from a Geriatric Hospital in Montreal took part in the study, 23 male and 37 female, with a mean age of 79.5 years. Their instructions were to stand up from a seated position in an armchair (approximate seat height of 46cm) walk a distance of 3 meters, turn around and walk back to the chair and return to the seated position. 10 active volunteers over 70 years old were also tested and these were used as control subjects. All the other patients had been diagnosed with major medical problems such as Parkinson’s disease and osteoarthritis.
The results displayed a wide range of times amongst the 60 patients with major medical diagnoses. However, the 10 active elderly volunteers all managed to complete the timed “up and go” in 10 seconds or less. The times between 57 of the patients ranged from 10 seconds to 240 seconds. There were 3 patients who were unable to complete the task and a further 7 who started but could not finish the test. No relationship was found between the score from the timed “up and go” test and their medical diagnosis. The scores were then divided into less than 10 seconds, 20 – 29 seconds and over 30 seconds as in indication of how independent in basic transfers they were.
The timed “up and go” test is very simple in that it is easy to administer as it requires no special equipment or training. The test is reliable as the results showed little variance in their times scores either between raters or over time. However further investigation is needed with regards to the group described as a ‘grey zone’. The scores in the 20-29 seconds category vary widely, therefore making it difficult to clarify their balance, gait speed and functional capacity. The test is valid as it measures everyday life activities. It is also a good screening tool as it may reveal no improvement in the time scores, displaying a deterioration in functional mobility that a neuromuscular examination may be unable to tell us.